By Jeff Childers
Happy Thursday, C&C, and welcome to September. I’ve been advised that Halloween decorations are now available at the Home Depot, expect Christmas lights shortly. In today’s roundup: Biden calls DeSantis a fascist; DOJ releases a “gotcha” picture from Trump’s office; thoughts about change agents; more of the DOJ’s case against Trump gets debunked; a NY Post op-ed calls for disbanding the CDC; a NY Times essay recounts Fauci’s legacy of failure; SADS deaths; add joy and test proctors to the danger list; and DeSantis creates the most popular state in the U.S..
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 Yesterday, the former vice president’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Claude, I mean Pierre, called Governor DeSantis a “semi-fascist,” whatever that is, for wishing that, instead of waiting for his retirement at the end of the year, someone would just go ahead and throw that little elf Fauci across the Potomac right now.
Karine made the comment while defending President Biden, who recently called the entire “MAGA wing” of the Republican Party semi-fascists.
So, according to Biden and his extra-diverse mouthpiece, a “semi-fascist” is a person who makes dwarf-throwing jokes. They shouldn’t be so cavalier with their re-defining everything. Mussolini is probably turning somersaults in his toasty grave.
🔥 Biden and his pet Attorney General Merrick Garland made a ghastly breach of federal law enforcement ethics yesterday. Maybe I should say “another ghastly breach.” They shattered all precedent by publishing an investigatory picture from Trump’s office allegedly showing some secret documents.
Let’s deal with the precedent-breaking issue first. There was no legal need to leak the picture. They laundered the leak by unnecessarily including the picture in their response to Trump’s motion to appoint a special master. I’ll talk more about why it was unnecessary in a minute. Anyway, the feds knew it would be front-page clickbait in ten seconds, even though it proves nothing and doesn’t relate to the special master issue.
The picture was not intended to further the DOJ’s legal argument, it was intended to make Trump look bad. It’s that simple.
In defense of the DOJ’s prosecutors, normally — unlike Trump — the only thing a politician under investigation will publicly say is, “Pursuant to my attorney’s advice, I’m not going to comment, but I expect to be fully vindicated.” But that’s not Trump’s style.
In contrast to the usual strategy of staying quiet, Trump has thrown legal caution to the wind and is talking a blue streak. The prosecutors probably see Trump as breaking some kind of unwritten agreement, so the gloves are off, we’re not going to fight with one arm tied behind our backs, and if Trump wants to try this case in the media then so be it! Or something like that.
But what can you say? That’s Trump. He’s a bull in a china shop. He doesn’t shop for bargains; he kicks the display tables over and then asks how much the owner wants for all the broken pieces at a lot price.
Don’t take that as critical; I mean it as a compliment. Allow me a brief digression to explain.
🔥 In management jargon, there’s a term for a specific type of manager: “a change agent.” A change agent is the CEO that you bring in during a crisis when you need to make big layoffs and completely restructure the company. To manage that kind of change, the new CEO must be brutally efficient, hard-nosed, and completely unfeeling, since the company’s existence is at stake.
Everyone, CEO included, knows perfectly well that the employees are going to wind up hating him. But there’s a natural remedy. Once all the corporate surgery is over, you can make a big show of terminating the now-reviled CEO, and ceremoniously replace him with a peacemaker. This pattern is so well-established that boilerplate language in the change agent CEO’s contract always includes a giant golden parachute. It’s always intended to be a short-term gig.
The current situation is perfectly simple: Trump is a change agent, like in the corporate example. Like any other change agent, you probably wouldn’t want Trump to be president forever, not if you really think it through (he’s too old anyway).
Trump’s job was always to restructure the government, so that another President who’s a great manager can come in and take over, after the restructuring is finished, and after things are back to running smoothly.
At the broadest level, fixing our government isn’t really complicated. Professional managers can see what needs to be done, it’s just like a bloated aging corporation: there are too many employees, the budgets are busted, workers are distracted by a bunch of random off-mission projects, and the entire company is unprofitable.
It’s past time for America to hire a change agent, it’s that simple. Whether it’s Trump or somebody else. We need someone to prune the workforce, shutter all unneeded departments, refocus the company (the country) back to the original core mission, and get it running profitably (i.e., a budget surplus).¹
Whether it’s Trump or someone else, whoever ultimately fixes the government is going to make a LOT of enemies, so the change agent needs to be someone at the end of their career, probably someone who isn’t a professional politician, and someone who doesn’t already owe favors to lots of people in Washington. Trump fits that profile, and that’s the best argument for Trump.
Back to the picture. Here it is:
🔥 The turgid leftist fever swamps on Twitter are agog over the FBI’s picture, which lefties excitedly feel “proves” Trump is literally one million times worse than Benedict Arnold, the most hated and despised traitor since Brutus literally stabbed Julius Caesar in the back. But as usual, the rhapsodic lefties are more exuberant than rational.
This picture shows nothing interesting.
(1) Trump wasn’t keeping the documents on his floor. Obviously the FBI agent scattered the papers on the floor for the picture, to make a record they were there, so it would be harder for Trump to later claim the documents were planted, as both the tagging card (“2A”) and the rulers suggest.
(2) The entire country ALREADY KNEW there were confidential and top-secret documents in Trump’s office. He hasn’t denied that. The photo adds nothing.
(3) Only the documents’ cover pages are visible (or were redacted). We have no idea WHAT the top secret information relates to. There aren’t even dates shown on any of the documents, so as far as we know, they could contain Civil War field reports.
(4) Trump’s position is he declassified the documents he kept, and he has credibly argued that under well-established law he has the unilateral authority to declassify anything he wants, for any reason, or for no reason at all. The picture does not contradict that argument in any way.
I could go on, but you get the point. Since the picture adds nothing new or legally probative, it wasn’t necessary to the government’s objection to any appointment of a special master. But it was needed to give corporate media a talking point.
🔥 Consider a September 5, 2019, article from NPR headlined, “Can President Trump Really Tweet A Highly Classified Satellite Photo? Yep, He Can.”
In late August, 2019, Trump tweeted a top-secret satellite photo of a failed Iranian missile launch. The photo included intelligence labels and margins markings indicating the origins of the picture, which apparently was a top-secret U.S. intelligence satellite, USA 224.
In the story, NPR reported that Trump told skeptical reporters, “We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do.”
Now, here’s the important part. NPR itself debunked the idea that Trump had done anything wrong:
Such a disclosure of classified information by anyone but the president would end in jail time, says Bruce Klingner, a former CIA officer now at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Anyone else who revealed it would be sitting in Leavenworth prison, serving out a prison term,” Klingner says.
But in the world of classified secrets, the president of the United States has absolute power. “The classification system for national security information is not based in a law, it derives from the president’s own status as commander in chief of the armed forces,” says Steven Aftergood, who studies government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.
The rules about classification are laid out in very detailed presidential orders as part of a system run by the executive branch, and Trump is the boss.
“He therefore has the authority to decide unilaterally what will be disclosed, what will be declassified and what will not,” Aftergood says.
Of course, NPR is singing a different tune NOW, but if it weren’t for shifting principles, NPR wouldn’t have any principles at all.
🔥 The argument that Trump broke the Presidential Records Act has also been debunked, causing another one of the DOJ’s claims to disappear in a puff of sulphur. First, as scholar Jonathan Hurley pointed out, the PRA is not a criminal statute and includes no criminal penalties. But even more significantly, in 2012 Bill Clinton was sued for keeping some presidential records in his sock drawer, I am not making that up, and a federal court found Clinton did nothing wrong:
The Court will grant the motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because plaintiff’s claim is not redressable. NARA [the National Archives] does not have authority to designate materials as “Presidential records,” NARA does not have the tapes in question, and NARA lacks any right, duty, or means to seize control of them. In other words, there has been no showing that a remedy would be available to redress plaintiff’s alleged injury even if the Court agreed with plaintiff’s characterization of the materials. Since plaintiff is completely unable to identify anything the Court could order the agency to do that the agency has any power, much less, a mandatory duty, to do, the case must be dismissed.
Seems pretty clear.
🔥 Trump’s decision not to follow the usual script of staying quiet during an investigation is triggering corporate media, hard. Yesterday Yahoo News ran an article headlined, “With Legal Peril Rising, Trump Turns to QAnon and 4chan Memes for Support.”
It’s a hysterical, over-the-top rant about Trump retweeting a bunch of stuff yesterday that Yahoo distorted completely out of context. For example, Yahoo claimed Trump said “it was the FBI and members of antifa who had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”
That would be a little wild, even for Trump. I chased that one down, and it turned out that Trump had only retweeted a thread about January 6th instigator Ray Epps, who has been credibly identified as an intelligence asset and — while Epps publicly denies it — has never denied that under oath, nor has he sued anybody for defamation. Somehow Yahoo turned that into a Trump “claim” that the FBI stormed the Capitol. Nonsense.
💉 A study published yesterday in the journal Vaccine titled “Serious adverse events of special interest following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in randomized trials in adults.”
The researchers used Pfizer and Moderna’s own randomized, placebo-controlled trials and compared them against an industry list of common adverse events following vaccination. Guess what they found?
Combined, there was a 16% higher risk of serious adverse events in mRNA vaccine recipients … points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses … release of participant level datasets… The Pfizer trial exhibited a 36% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group[.]
That’s not good for business.
You can add this study to the ever-growing list of journal articles critical of the jabs. Remember: jab-critical studies have been embargoed until just recently; journal editors have simply refused to print them because they “could cause vaccine hesitancy.”
Something is changing.
🔥 There was more evidence of the pivot when, a couple weeks ago, the New York Post ran an op-ed headlined, “Too Little, Too Late: Disband the CDC Now.” The author argued that, given the CDC’s politicization during the pandemic, such as by involving the teachers’ unions in crafting covid guidance, and its many mistakes and missteps and revolving advice, the CDC is beyond any possible hope of reorganization.
During its 2½ years of dealing with COVID, the CDC has failed to do these things at any level. It has become completely politicized and is now flailing around for relevance updating guidance that never made sense in the first place. It has caused Americans much harm. Disband it now.
I couldn’t possibly agree more. Why is the government in the health business anyways? Pull the plug.
But there’s more. This New York Post op-ed seems to have been the start of a trend.
🔥 In perhaps the most remarkable recent example of the developing narrative pivot, the New York Times ran a “guest essay” Tuesday titled, “Why Many Americans Turned on Anthony Fauci.”
The article begins by asking, “how by 2022 did Dr. Fauci become, to so many, a villain?”
My first thought was, how much time do you have?
The author acknowledges that a lot of “wacky” conspiracy theories and so-called “misinformation” prominently featured that monstrous puppy torturer Fauci, and maybe some of those claims were unfair. But then it gets to the point:
[H]owever much truth there is to the story that Dr. Fauci was a victim of our polarized era and broken media environment, it is also partial and simplistic. It amounts to insisting that skepticism of the good doctor must have been everyone’s fault but his own.
The author doesn’t stop with Fauci. He went after the CDC, too:
[T]here has been a growing willingness by mainstream observers, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to admit that the public health response to Covid-19 was in many ways a failure. It failed the million Americans who died. And it failed the living by being bumbling and incoherent.
You don’t say.
But then the article actually listed Fauci’s many failures. You might ask yourself, when have you ever seen a list of Fauci’s mistakes printed in the New York Times? Here’s the list:
Dr. Fauci became the face of American public health’s incoherent response to the pandemic. He urged the country to shut down weeks after dismissing early Covid worries as a baseless fear of “going to a Chinese restaurant”; he encouraged masking weeks after counseling against it; he aggressively cast the lab leak theory as fringe (though possible) despite many scientists wanting more to be done on lab safety. Just this April, Dr. Fauci said one day that we were “out of the pandemic phase” and the next day that we were “still experiencing a pandemic.”
Remember, this appeared in the New York Times. The Left’s Gold Standard. The anti-Fauci essay was approved by the Times’ editors.
Fauci’s flip-flop on masking may be his undoing. Here’s how the Times’ essay described that shining example of bureaucratic flexibility:
There was nothing stopping Dr. Fauci in those chaotic early weeks from saying “Masks might help, but doctors and nurses need them more now,” or even just “We’re not sure yet.” This would have been far closer to accurately representing scientific understanding and would have done wonders in case the answer later changed, as many elements of guidance were bound to.
Sigh. How many times have I made the exact same point? But it wasn’t JUST the mask flip. The Times essayist also made the more fundamental point, that Fauci HIMSELF undermined public trust in science by fantastically claiming the he personally embodied “science:”
In 2021 [Fauci] would say that his foes were “really criticizing science, because I represent science,” implying that the only possible reason to criticize him was animus toward science. It was this that became so destructive to trust: the idea that science is a force that demands things of the public yet relieves leaders of accountability.
I couldn’t have said it any better. But maybe the most important paragraph in the story is this next one, which accurately and persuasively describes the most terrible implications of what the public health establishment has wrought:
There’s something appealing about the view that science floats loftily above us all, accessible to a select few with years of rigorous training in its methods. But, as romantic visions often do, it fell hard to earth. The follow-the-science logic we have lived under during Covid demands wartime sacrifices from the public while rationalizing sloth from leaders and institutions in mobilizing tools to relieve the burden. It became an easy out for bureaucratic turf protection, lost dynamism and institutional fecklessness. “Follow the science” became a failure to lead, a way to shift the onus of responsibility from presidents, Congress, health authorities and school boards onto the public.
That’s a powerful indictment of the fundamentally destructive nature of public health’s pandemic excesses. Finally, the essay’s remarkable conclusion explicitly called for Fauci’s entire legacy to be labeled as a FAILURE:
The public health establishment will not be able to do better than this without real soul-searching. And that will require swallowing a bitter pill: labeling Dr. Fauci’s Covid legacy and the approach it embodied a failure… we must learn to see science as a vehicle, not a dodge, for human agency: something we are right to make demands of, right at times to get angry at, whose terrible failures it must own along with its triumphs.
Where have all these public health experts who so keenly recognize Fauci’s failure been for the last two years? Oh, well.
This New York Times essay is remarkable, not just for existing at all; it’s most remarkable for where it appeared — featured in the New York Times. There is an extraordinary narrative pivot quietly underway.
Unlike previous pivots where the government and its media allies gave clear advance signals where it was going, with this one, I can’t tell yet. But it’s going somewhere.
💉 Yesterday, junior hockey Captain Eli Palfreyman, 20, suddenly and unexpectedly keeled over, dead, DURING a hockey tournament in Ontario, Canada. He’d just been named captain of the team five days before he died.
Clarington Eagles @EaglesPJHLTragedy in AYR yesterday as Captain Eli Palfreyman passed away during a hockey game. The entire Clarington Eagles organizations thoughts and prayers go out to the Centennials organization, it’s fans as well as the friends and family of this young man. therecord.com/news/waterloo-…
August 31st 202216 Retweets69 Likes
Safe and effective!
💉 Otherwise healthy FIU linebacker Luke Knox, 22, died suddenly and unexpectedly last week. Local 7 News Miami reported, “While the cause of his death has not been revealed, police don’t suspect foul play.”
WSVN 7 News @wsvnSince the passing of 22-year-old FIU linebacker Luke Knox, Monday was the first time his teammates and coaches had a chance to let people know how much Knox meant to the program. Teammates and coaches reflect on death of 22-year-old FIU football player Luke KnoxMIAMI (WSVN) – Since the passing of 22-year-old FIU linebacker Luke Knox, Monday was the first time his teammates and coaches had a chance to…wsvn.comAugust 29th 20221 Retweet8 Likes
Maybe they don’t suspect foul play, but I do, just not the kind that the police meant.
💉 You really can’t make this stuff up. I’m just going to copy the headline in here, or you’ll think I’m exaggerating:
Now that’s bold. You have to hand it to them. They just added “joy” to the growing list of everyday experiences that can suddenly kill you — but only by a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. And it’s not some kind of super life-changing joy. It just the joy from seeing one semester’s report card.
It really adds a whole new dimension to the expression, “overjoyed.”
I’d really like to mock this UK Mirror article into oblivion, but I have committed to refrain from humor when reporting these tragic SADS deaths. As much as I can.
🔥 The death-from-joy article is really a two-fer. Because of the similarities to Mubarak’s case, the Mirror cited an Indian news report from March, about a student who died from a heart attack after being told she was in the wrong exam room and would have to run to the correct room and start over. They blamed the test proctor:
Scribble test proctors onto the list. But in all seriousness, it seems these young people’s hearts are giving out from any little kind of stress at all. For some reason.
📈 In yet more evidence of Governor DeSantis’ winning, the Florida Standard ran a story last week headlined, “Americans: Florida Best State to Live In.”
An August Rasmussen poll reported that Florida is now the nation’s most desirable state to live in. It wasn’t even close. Florida collected more selections than any other state, collecting a full 18% of the total survey responses. Surprisingly, California ranked second, with 11% of selections.
The paper didn’t quibble about the reasons, either:
> With no state taxes, warm weather and iconic beaches, Florida has long been an attractive place to live. Over the past two years, however, Governor Ron DeSantis’ policies have attracted many Americans who were unwilling to endure COVID restrictions across the country.
Beaches, weather, and taxes aren’t new. The only factor the paper identified apart from those long-standing advantages was Florida’s covid policies. But let’s not forget the other policies, like anti-CRT, anti-rioting, and medical protection for vulnerable kids with gender dysphoria.
Maybe this survey finally proves that all the states should follow Florida’s model. Just saying.
Have a terrific Thursday, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for another solid roundup of news and commentary.
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Since he’s NOT a career politician, Trump’s first four years are best viewed as his training, learning how the company works. The next four years would be when he can really start cutting.
© 2022 Jeff Childers
2135-B NW 40th Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32605
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.